Women in Marketing
Marketeye was over in the Women in Ag group, and was wondering about farm wives & if/how we have marketing duties. I'm reposting what I said over there.
I handle the majority of our marketing decisions. Hubby is one of those "emotional" marketers, and after several years of observing I just had to get involved for the sake of our financial security. I was hired on at FSA when LDPs started in 1998, and have been following prices on a daily basis ever since. His decisions are based on watching Market to Market once a week, and his gut feelings. It's a struggle when he thinks we should sell, but I don't. Sometimes I just have to give in, and then later bite my tongue to keep from saying "I told you so!" Both for the sake of the marriage.
I actually follow the Marketing Talk on a regular basis, moreso than Women in Ag. The information is educational, often entertaining, and has been very helpful in making our operation profitable. We only run 300 acres, and only use forward contracting and cash sales. I haven't found the courage or a dependable mentor to get into the puts & calls thing. Yet.
Any other ladies out there?
Re: Women in Marketing
I was visiting the ladies in the Women in Ag talk section. The coffee they serve over there is very tasty.
How this thought started? I was visiting with a local grain elevator's marketing manager in eastern Iowa one day. At the end of the conversation he said I know you didn't ask about this but did you know a lot of my guys tell me their wives are heavily involved in their farm's marketing? I was surprised that so many made decisions that way.
So, does your wife, business partner, etc. make or assist in the farm's marketing (risk management) decisions, like the elevator guy says?
By request from marketeye
He asked me to bring this post over here...I normally would not invade the man-cave!
Well, Mike, it's like this: If you want a woman to buy into what you want to do, you need to give her a say in how it is done. For some couples, this is more of a joint decision-making process, while others have evolved a clearer division-of-labor strategy. A third position is to combine the two.
As contract hog growers, marketing our major product is not even on the radar. We break out farm management along the lines of production decisions largely delegated to Mike, and administrative ones to me. We will each keep the other apprised of issues and choices, but it is mostly an inside the gate him/outside the gate me organizational structure. We will talk out things that need a different point of view, and since we have such different mindsets - although directed towards a common goalset - it works out pretty well in general.
He and the kids sell the sheep and hay however they wish to whomever they wish on whatever terms they choose. I simply give any callers their respective cell phone numbers. I used to keep more current on prices and availability of meat rams and hay bales, but I have learned that there are some callers they will not sell to anymore, even if the pastures and haybarns are full, because they are a PITA. Even if I have a general idea what they have on hand and what it costs, I play dumb and pass the inquiry along. They do the same with insurance agents, investment counselors, attorneys, accountants, etc., referring them to me. (BTW, you say "risk management," which to me is a lot wider topic than marketing decisions...involves for us a lot of permit documentation/insurance decisions, legal advice listened to, etc.)
Most men would be better served if they accepted that women in most cases want family financial security, not necessarily empires built. I wanted my children fed, clothed, sheltered and educated. I need for my home to be warm and comfortable...I do not know a woman who wants to work her guts out all day in active farm production, and then crawl into a man-cave at night.
We are directing our minds more towards retirement now, and have a decade to figure out what that phase of our lives will look like. Again, I do not know a woman who really wants to "have to" go out away from the farm after a lifetime of work - paid or not - and get a parttime job to meet the bills; so, some of your risk management needs to be a good plan for farm succession or other means of funding your golden years.
Going along, you need to carry enough life insurance on both of you to replace key functions, or at least avoid a fire sale, so that you leave each other and any dependents protected. Oh, and pleeeaaasssseeee, figure out a way to make your estate fair to all of your children - and realize that to a woman, this usually means "equal."
For us, this means actual appraisals of separate farm properties for each child, and then using cash, investment portfolios and then life insurance, to level out the values so each is treated equally, and no farm is divided. (Fathers tend to focus on what is "fair." To them. this usually means the kid who worked hardest on the farm gets it, and then the rest resent him - or, rarely, her - for it).
Understand that another bushel of corn per acre or another nickel per bushel is not as crucial to your wife or your children than is having you at the dinner table with them way more often than not. If you have long, relatively idle seasons, try to give at least some of that opportunity to home improvements, family time, and lightening her load.
Work this stuff out and then structure marketing decisions together that support this overall plan. That is what I think many women want and many farming operations lack...an overall, equally-chosen plan.
I know this is probably not precisely what you asked for, but I feel that I see a lot of farming families that miss out on these important factors. Oh, and if you do decide to listen to your wife's advice a couple of days later, instead of pretending it was your idea all along, you might try saying :"thanks for the thought." We are still, after 41 years, working on that one!